Copyright Compendium

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2310.1 How to Terminate a Grant

2310.1 How to Terminate a Grant

To terminate a grant, the author or the author’s heirs must serve an advance written “notice of termination” on the grantee or the grantee’s successor in title and must record a copy of that notice with the U.S. Copyright Office.

The notice of termination must specify the date that the termination goes into effect. The effective date must fall within a five-year termination period. The beginning and ending of this five-year period is based on a number of factors, such as whether the grant was executed before or after January 1, 1978.

The notice must be served and recorded before the effective date of termination. Specifically, the notice must be served on the grantee no less than two years and no more than ten years before the effective date, and the notice must be recorded with the Office before the effective date.

Failing to specify an effective date that falls within the five-year termination period, or failing to serve and record the notice in a timely manner is a fatal mistake. If the author or the author’s heirs do not comply with these requirements the notice of termination will be invalid, “the agreement will continue according to its own terms,” and “all rights covered by an existing grant will continue unchanged … .” H.R. REP. NO. 94-1476, at 126, 128 (1976), reprinted in 1976 U.S.C.C.A.N. 5659, 5742, 5744.

The types of grants that may be eligible for termination are discussed in Section 2310.2. The specific procedures for terminating a grant are discussed in Sections 2310.3 through 2310.5, including who may terminate a grant, when a grant may be terminated, what should be included in the notice of termination, and how the notice should be served. The procedure for recording a notice of termination with the U.S. Copyright Office is discussed in Sections 2310.6 and 2310.7.

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